Monthly Archives: December 2013
In a couple of weeks, I will have read through the Bible in one year. This is a goal that I have had for the last few years, but good intentions seemed to always turn into failed objectives. I would start the year out strong, start slacking off around mid-February, and then completely give up by March. I would continue to read and study, but always shorter reading plans without getting through the entire Bible.
I was determined this year that I would finally accomplish my goal. I don’t know that it’s necessary for spiritual growth to have read through the Bible in one year, but I felt like it would stretch me in my spiritual disciplines.
As you think about setting spiritual goals for 2014, here are a few things that I did to help keep me on pace:
1. Get up earlier.
I am admittedly not a morning person. My standard line of “not enough time in the morning”, was just a lazy excuse to not discipline myself to get to bed earlier at night so that I can start my day earlier in the morning. I started backing my alarm back 15 minutes a week until that was no longer an issue.
2. Choose a reading plan that is a mix of Old and New Testament.
I will concede that not every book in the Old Testament is a Suzanne Collins page turner. I am not always sure why I needed to know that Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah; but if I know that the next passage on the plan is a story about Jesus – the fulfillment of the begats – I will keep reading.
3. Don’t give up if I miss a couple of days.
I would occasionally miss a couple of days of reading. Instead of beating myself up and eventually giving up on it, I would gradually catch back up through a weekend of extra reading. YouVersion.com also has a great feature where you can have your plan adjust to where you are. This helps you not get depressed if the date is behind a few days or weeks.
4. Make it a routine.
It helped me to know that almost every morning I would do my reading at the exact same time/place and on the same device. The only times that I struggled were when that routine got disrupted.
5. Have accountability
What has helped me stay on track the most is having my wife do it with me. She has her own reading plan, and we often share what we are learning along the way. I love getting her perspective on a passage that I am struggling with.
I occasionally get asked why I write the way that I write. If you have read a few posts on my blog, you will notice that they are not very long. A few thoughts or ideas and usually an application. The simple answer to why I write this way is – that is how I like to read blogs.
I commit a certain amount of time and attention differently to different mediums.
Twitter is a very quick glance, with little retention.
Blogs are a little more time and attention, but if the post goes past a page scroll, I will probably move on.
Books (yes, I still read books) are given a lengthy amount of time to read, comprehend and apply.
I think this trend has an application to how we train our leaders. Instead of using one method or medium for training, what if it was broken up into bite-size chunks that can reach people where they already are?
A short video that can be watched in less than 3 minutes on a mobile device.
A twitter account that is dedicated to 2-3 leadership thoughts a day.
2-3 recommended books a year, that are followed up with summary blog posts for further discussion.
Whatever we produce, it has to be mobile friendly. If it can’t be consumed on a phone/tablet, it probably won’t be consumed. It might be time to rethink what leadership training looks like in a completely mobile world.
My friend, Ben Reed, recently released a great book called Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint. In Starting Small, Ben helps you through the process of putting a small group ministry together. Through this book, you will discover how small groups can be a place where people belong so they can become. Ben is currently the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN area. He regularly blogs at BenReed.net, and I am excited to have him guest post here today!
I love Sunday morning corporate worship. It energizes me to worship with other believers, and be challenged by good, solid preaching.
But corporate gatherings alone will dry me up, spiritually. I need small group life.
You do, too.
Why Small Groups are Vital to Your Spiritual Growth
1. It’s too easy to hide in a large gathering.
It’s tougher to hide in a small group.
2. It’s too easy to be passive during a sermon.
Wallflowers don’t last long in a small group.
3. There is little to no accountability.
Follow-through is much easier in a small group.
4. We’re prone to think we matter too little.
Small groups remind us that we are loved.
5. We’re prone to think we matter too much.
Small groups remind us that others have problems, too.
6. We’re prone to think, “they need to hear this.”
Small groups challenge us to personally apply Truth.
7. We’re prone to think, “this is only for me…”
Small groups keep us from cycling into destructive self-pity and loathing.
8. When we cry, there’s nobody to ask us, “What’s going on?”
Small groups don’t let tears go unchecked.
9. No food is allowed in most worship gatherings. #Lame.
We eat well in our small group
10. “Be quiet while the pastor is preaching!”
Small group gives you time to have deep, life-stirring conversations with people.
11. Convictions go unchecked.
When the Spirit moves in small group, you’ve got time to slow down.
12. Specific needs go un-prayed for.
Small groups pray for the specific needs of their group members.
13. There’s no time for questions.
Small groups ask hard questions and allow for discovery.
Are you in a small group?
I have written before about how much I believe in church-wide campaigns – where every small group is aligned with the weekend series for a few weeks. I know that one of the most difficult components of pulling off a successful campaign is finding the right curriculum. I may be bit biased, but I think that I have found a perfect one to kick off the new year.
My Pastor, Pete Wilson, wrote an amazing book called Let Hope In, and they have now released the 6 week DVD study to go along with it. Pete was personally involved in writing the small group study because he sincerely believes that life-change happens best within the context of community. In this study, Pete realizes that we’ve all blown it. In fact, he knows that if we stack up enough mistakes, shame, and regret, that any of us could be forever hindered by our past. But Pete realizes and tells us that there’s hope—regardless of our history.
We are going to kick off 2014 at Cross Point with this study as an all-church campaign, and I would encourage your church to consider it as well. Click here to check out a digital version of the member guide.
If you decide to do this as a campaign in January, please let me know in the comments!